Aura Go on the thrilling heights violin and piano can achieve at Melbourne Recital Centre this September

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Aura Go on the thrilling heights violin and piano can achieve at Melbourne Recital Centre this September

Ilya Gringolts Aura Go
Photo: Anne Moffat

There are few experiences more captivating than watching two artists take their craft to the utmost.

It was in 2016 that audiences first witnessed masterful pianist Aura Go and virtuosic violinist Ilya Gringolts – who are coming to Melbourne Recital Centre on September 19 – perform at the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival in the north of Finland.

The artistry of their collaboration will be on display at an upcoming performance at the Recital Centre in which they perform an impressive repertoire of magnificent pieces by Mozart, Schumann and Rihm.

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“I was living in Finland for seven years,” says acclaimed pianist Aura Go, “and I moved back to Melbourne in 2018. I had the privilege of playing with Ilya at that festival. I hadn’t met Ilya before, but of course, I was familiar with his artistry.

“He’s an incredible musician, incredible violinist.”

“I think working with a musician of Ilya’s calibre is what really makes being a musician so incredibly rewarding and exciting. I just learned so much from playing with musicians who are just at the top of their game in every respect.

“Ilya’s artistry is second to none, so you always have the feeling with Ilya that he is creating the music in the moment. It’s quite a thrilling approach to music making and always rooted in deep understanding and sensitivity toward the music.”

Alongside Mozart’s Violin Sonata No.35 in A, K.526 and Schumann’s Sonata for Violin No.2, Op.121, Go and Gringolts will be performing the Australian premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s Phantom and Eskapade, dedicated to Anne-Sophie Mutter.

“Neither of us have played this piece before, but I’m aware that Ilya has played a work by Wolfgang Rihm before and I believe he has even worked with the composer,” says Go. “Rihm is a really prolific German composer – I have played some of Rihm’s chamber music before and found them really profound and quite powerful. I know Ilya shares an interest in performing the music of our time, championing music by living composers.

“In the Mozart and the Schumann, we have conversations between the violin and the piano taken to their very limits,” Go enthuses. “The sonata of Mozart is full of fantasy and adventure – it’s a really joyous interplay between the violin and the piano. Mozart’s invention is just boundless, so the music is bursting with ideas. And the Schumann, similarly, though with much more pathos and tragedy, was written at the end of his life, which was a very difficult period for him.”

The sublime pianist has performed around the world as soloist in concertos, recitalist and chamber musician in programs fusing traditional and contemporary music, and creative collaborator in developing new music and multi-artform projects. “I started playing the piano when I was about 8,” Go recalls. “It was really natural. There was music in the house because my father, who was raised in Indonesia and moved to Australia shortly before I was born, brought with him cassettes of classical music. But I’m the first musician in my family. I loved Mozart, Schubert string quartets, Beethoven symphonies, lots of Bach. Mozart was always a real love from early on.”

Go is a dedicated educator who holds a doctorate and is also Head of Piano at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music and Performance at Monash University.

Does she see classical music reaching a more diverse audience in the current times?

“I do – I think this is a time of great opportunity for classical music,” Go reflects. “I really think that when we all have the opportunity to engage with this music, the music itself is so powerful. It has such a transformative power that I think when we give all people access to it – especially when we make sure children have access to high quality music education, which is a thing that a country like Finland does very well, then the ripple of that on the entire musical culture and eco system of that country is enormous.

“I think we need to tackle the issue from multiple angles. We know that music is being listened to by more people now – the digital access that people have now is greater than it ever has been before.”

Most importantly, Go is passionate about communicating the idea that audiences are participating in the performance by being an audience member. “What I’m really interested in is how we can encourage more people to engage with live performance,” says Go.

“Because by being an audience member you are actually participating in the event. It’s not passive – you’re actually part of the creation of something. We need to be better at communicating that as musicians that’s what’s happening.

“It’s not the musician performing to a passive audience; the audience is playing an active role in participation of the performance. And when that happens, that’s when the power of music is really extraordinary. I’m really passionate about expanding the reach that we have through live performance.

“I really hope that people will come and feel that they are participating in the performance,” affirms the impassioned artist. “I know that one of the things that is so thrilling, moving and powerful about Ilya’s playing is that experiencing his playing gives you exactly that experience – you are not passive; you feel like you are not just witnessing but participating in the creative impulse of the music itself, which is the most thrilling thing that we can experience when we’re in contact with music.

“I’m hoping that we’ll be able to share that experience of music making with the audience. The repertoire is just so rich and we’ve selected a program that highlights the greatest heights that the violin and piano duo can achieve in terms of the expressive range, scope and scale of chamber music.”

Witness the majesty of International Classics at the Recital Centre’s Elisabeth Murdoch Hall on September 19 at 7:30pm. For tickets, visit International Classics – Ilya Gringolts & Aura Go (

This article was made in partnership with Melbourne Recital Centre.